When choosing my study abroad I wanted to go somewhere Spanish-speaking, but not Spain. I have had many friends who have gone to the Spanish homeland, but I wanted to have a completely unique experience unlike anyone else’s and unlike my own as well. When I chose Peru I was ready to begin my Spanish journey on a slightly more unbeaten path: South America. While there are so many reasons I love Peru and am happy I chose somewhere different, I can sum them all up in three simple ones.
- The Mixture of Cultures in Peru: While studying here I quickly discovered that Peru is not the typical Spanish idea I envisioned, but a combination of many different cultures, ways of life, languages, and ethnicities. The Incan culture is still very prevalent here, especially in Cusco which used to be the capital to this empire. Also, many people dress in the traditional or semi-traditional Quechua style, speak Quechua, and still participate in many of the old religious and social traditions. Being here is like I am experiencing two very different cultures at once, and seeing the product of that mixture in the entire city. I get to see llamas walking down the street with their owners, and cellphone and computer companies on every corner.
- The Friendliness: Being from Nebraska, I’m used to that Midwestern friendliness that everyone has, and I’m lucky enough to have that in Peru as well. Everywhere you go, the people greet you with a smile, a kiss, and genuinely want to engage with you. They don’t care if you totally mess up your Spanish because they are sincerely grateful that you are taking time to come to them and learn. Our group is very small compared to other countries (only 23 people) and this makes the locals here even more appreciative and caring towards us. I feel the same hospitality here as I would walking down the street in my home town, which is truly amazing.
- The Environment: Nebraska is famous for a few things, but mountains are surely not one. Getting to actually live in the mountains (Cusco is located in a valley completely surrounded by peaks) and to experience a different way of life is amazing. The weather, the food, the transportation, and everything else here is affected by the presence of the mountains, and it creates something I truly appreciate. I purposefully choose somewhere 11,000 ft. above sea level that looked nothing like my home state (or Spain), so I would get the experience of something completely unique. Because of Cusco, every morning I get the opportunity to wake up, look out my window, and see gorgeous peaks just down the street from me. I don’t know many other people who get to say that.